NBII Library of Images from the Environment (LIFE)

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The NBII Library of Images from the Environment is a growing collection of over 11,000 images of diverse, well-documented images of nature and the environment. Topics include animals, fungi and lichens, plants, microorganisms, interactions among species, landscapes , weather, research, environmental topics, and management.

Use the search box below and click "Submit" to start your search.

Western Soundscapes

Western Soundscapes images
[Image: Western Soundscapes]

The Western Soundscape Archive is a searchable web-based audio archive with a focus on the natural sounds of the western United States. Housed at the University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library, the recordings include representative sounds of more than 90% of the West's bird species, all of the region's frogs and toads, and more than 100 different types of mammals and reptiles, as well as ambient soundscapes and interviews.

California Animals and Plants

Swainson's Hawk
Swainson's Hawk
[Photo: Copyright, Allan D. Hollander]

California contains the greatest number of native species and the greatest number of endemic species in the United States. There are about 6,272 native plant taxa, with 2,153 endemics, 51 native species of amphibians, 84 native species of reptiles, 433 regularly-occurring bird species, 197 native mammal species, and 67 native freshwater fish species, to name just the vertebrates ( Source: Atlas of the Biodiversity of California ).

Nearly 800 vertebrate and invertebrate species have been identified by California's state wildlife agency as species of Greatest Conservation Need (GCN). The California Species of Greatest Conservation Need interactive application brings together resources from multiple authoritative sources including NatureServe and ITIS.

The Animals and Plants section provides links to and information about web resources for the native plants, animals, other organisms, and ecological communities of the state including:

Amphibian PhotoAmphibians
California is home to 51 native amphibian species.
Bird PhotoBirds
There are 433 regularly occurring birds species across the state.
Fish PhotoFishes
Both marine and freshwater fish species live in California, because of its unique geographical location.
Fungi PhotoFungi
Fungi play an essential role in nutrient cycling and plant growth.
Invertebrates PhotoInvertebrates
There are about 28,000 identified insects in California, representing a large component of invertebrate biodiversity in the state.
Mammal PhotoMammals
There are 197 mammal species found in California, 17 of these are found only in the state.
Plant PhotoPlants
From coastal environments to deserts mountains, California's unique geography provides many habitat types for many plant species.
Reptile PhotoReptiles
California is home to 84 native reptile species.

Species Spotlight

Picture of a Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) available at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Image Library
Image: Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)
Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Image Library

Desert tortoise
Gopherus agassizii

Description: A typical land-dwelling tortoise with the following features: head is roofed with small unevenly sized scales; front feet are club shaped, scaled, and terminate in unwebbed toes with broad, thick claws; the hindlegs are columnar and elephantine, again with unwebbed broad claws; the carapace is highly domed, steep sided and flattened dorsally, brown (dull yellow to light brown in young), and has prominent growth lines; unhinged plastron is yellowish and generally has prominent growth lines; limbs are stocky; tail is short; adult carapace length 20-36 cm.

Life History: The Desert tortoise is primarily an herbivore, whose diet consists of grasses, cacti, and shrubs. Occasionally insect and insect larvae may be eaten. Desert tortoise mature between 12 and 20 years and reproduce through laying up to 15 pale eggs in the spring. Over its 50 to 100 year lifetime, a tortoise may use 1.5 square miles of habitat and make forays of more than 7 miles at a time.

Habitat: Desert tortoise are mainly found in shrubland/chaparral vegetation communities and almost entirely confined to warm creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) vegetation of the Upper Sonoran life zones of the Mojave, Colorado, and Sonoran deserts.

Distribution: The Desert tortoise is a widespread species of the southwestern United States and Mexico. Within the United States, Desert tortoises live in the Mojave, Colorado, and Sonoran deserts of southeastern California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, and western Arizona. A substantial portion of the habitat is on lands administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

U.S. range map of the Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), from the National Biological Service publication, 'Our Living Resources' Image: U.S. range map of the Desert tortoise, (Gopherus agassizii) , from the National Biological Service "Our Living Resources" publication chapter titled Desert Tortoises in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts.

Status: Populations in California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona north and west of the Colorado River are listed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as Threatened (Federal Register, 2 April 1990). Populations in Mexico and in Arizona south and east of the Colorado River are listed by USFWS as Threatened (due to similarity of appearance) when found outside this range.

Resources: Please go to NatureServe Explorer for more detailed species information, or for additional Desert tortoise information, please use the following links:

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